Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Bulletin 203 - Panama #11 - Raptors and Owl

I was disappointed at how few numbers of raptors that we saw on the 1 week Panama trip. We saw several different species, but usually only 1 or 2 individuals. Several of the really cool looking ones that I had seen on previous tropical trips were not seen at all.

We photographed 3 species of the falcon and caracara family. The smallest (9") was our familiar American Kestrel (Falco sparverius). This species is IDed by the 2 vertical black lines on the head. This is a male as he has gray wings. This is my best photo ever of this species, so I always take their photo even if I have already some good ones.

American Kestrel - male
The Northern Caracara (Caracara cheriway) is a large (23") raptor. It occurs throughout Central America as well as the southern USA (FL, AZ, TX). There was an old turtle shell on the ground that got his attention. I don't think there was much nutrition in it. LOL

Northern Caracara - juvenile

The last was the Yellow-headed Caracara (Milvago chimachima). It is smaller at 17" and is IDed by the beige head and breast with brown wings and back.

Yellow-headed Caracara - adult

Some of our hawks are migrants through Central America. We saw a couple of these. On the last day as we were driving down a mountain road, this juvenile Broad-winged Hawk (Buteo platypterus) was on a bare branch at eye level not 25 feet from us. We rolled down the windows of the vehicle and took photos.

Broad-winged Hawk - juvenile

The last hawk we photographed was the beautiful Savanna Hawk (Buteogallus meridionalis). This 22" hawk is cinnamon colored.

Savanna Hawk
We did not see any new vultures, but we did see this downy baby Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus) who fell out of the nest. He was on the ground and being protected and presumably fed by the parents.

Black Vulture - downy young
I love owls. I have only seen a single owl in my 4 previous trips to the tropics. Nocturnal birds are so difficult to find. So when the guide told us he was taking us to a house where owls roosted, it was the highlight of the trip. The Spectacled Owl (Pulsatrix perspicillata) at 19" is the largest owl in Panama. The pair were sitting in the open several feet apart on a branch. Here is the male.

Spectacled Owl - male

Happy birding and photography,

David McDonald

photos copyright 2006 - 2014 David McDonald

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